Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Don’t wait to say I Love YOU!

I was so mad at myself over the last month because I choose to be busy instead of being a real friend to someone who was dying. It’s so easy to be busy doing what is perceived as a good thing but miss what is more important in life. I allowed myself to believe the excuse in my mind that said they’re an older couple and don’t want to be bothered so it’s ok. Guess what it wasn’t OK! I had little awareness that my special friend over the last 20 years was gravely ill and that his days were close to the end on this earth.

I know that the sad story of a GCU mom that had allowed her one daughter to visit her older daughter at Grand Canyon University ends on a somber note. Clearly the sisters and their mom were very close. The mom had no idea that her good-bye hug and kiss to her daughter who flew to Phoenix would be her last. I have cried often over the last week as I think of this tragedy of another wrong way driver killing someone on the freeway. I know that it’s close to impossible to go to bed at night and be at peace with everyone, yet, it’s an incredible goal to make sure that you have a good or working relationship with family and close friends.

My mom who died of cancer has left a lasting impression on me as I would visit her on a monthly-basis. (I lived in Phoenix and she in San Diego.) She would always tell me before I left that she loved me, appreciated me as her son and that she didn’t want me to suffer or be sad over her impending death. She had a genuine faith and the ability to inspire me. Her death was horrible as she suffered in acute pain, yet, she taught me a little about how to suffer and relate back to family and friends in a beautiful fashion.

I know that it’s rather difficult to face my own mortality and truly believe that I’m not invincible and that ‘stuff’ like cancer or bad accidents only happens to other people and myself. As I walked grandma Bernice to her car last night after our discussion about showing respect to our grandparents it struck me that my good-bye could be the last. She joked around with one of our little guys, Frankie, who is cute for being a little guy. Yet, I will never forget crazy Mary another close friend who I lost touch because of her being ill over a long period of time. I was heart sick when I visited the senior center to discover she had passed. I was fortunate to have her daughter contact me because she wanted to personally tell me about her mom.

As I consider my older friends who have be a special part of my life I’m thankful that we have good relationships that are based upon real trust and seldom argue or fight. Yet, I know that it won’t be too long before I have a message about Grandma Mary who is 93 and has been so faithful. My hope is to be better at saying I love you and thanks for your care to me and my kids!

The bigger picture is that someday soon I’ll be the old guy who might be forgotten and left alone. I truly don’t want that and hope that I’m not to crotchety!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Don’t wait to ‘love on’ your grandparents!

We were out for an evening walk with our dogs as the sunset glowed before us on the canal trail. I decided to splurge for my Anne with a caramel frap from my Starbucks. I was delighted to have a freebie for my Starbucks drink but as I was opening my app to pay for the drink I noticed a message from a close friend. It was regarding one of my friends who is like a grandpa to me. I dreaded to receive this message from this far away friend because I knew that it could be the news of Andy’s death or as we say ‘home coming to heaven’.

It wasn’t too long ago that I had received a message from my same friend about his ailment that turned out to be terminal. I had sent my friend and his wife a couple of notes to tell them how much I appreciated their friendship over the last 20 years. I knew that they were a rather private couple that didn’t necessarily want someone to invade their space. Yet, looking back I do have a regret that I didn’t make the trek to their home. I needed to say my ‘earthly’ good-bye and be like a son to them. I didn’t realize until now that they didn’t have any children and their extended church family were truly their sons and daughters.

I have the privilege of working with seniors being able to connect them with kids and teens who need to appreciate them. It’s so difficult in today’s high tech world to help kids and teens see that seniors, especially their grandparents, aunts and uncles need their love and attention. I know that as a semi-rebellious teen I didn’t show a lot of respect to those that were older. I perceived them to be rather critical and impatient when it came to their willingness to pay attention to me. Yet, as I have become a senior it strikes me what I missed out on as a kid, teen and young adult. Now I have the opportunity of bringing people together to ‘love on’ seniors by painting the exterior of their homes and more importantly intentionally spend time with them.

Over the last eight years I have connected 1,000’s of volunteers to paint over 160 homes of grandmas and a few grandpas. I have lots of friends that represent churches, businesses, schools and colleges that have taken the time to make a difference in the life of a grandma. I’ve become close friends to many of these seniors in a way that makes it very difficult when they draw close to their final days. I will always remember crazy Maria or Mary who captured my heart as we became friends as I visited the senior center over a couple of years.

My dream is to be intentional about connecting youth and ‘us’ seniors. I want to help create a bridge between the elderly and the youth growing up. I needed my friend Andy’s friendship over the years. He was someone that believed in me even when others seemed to question what I was doing. He wasn’t your ‘touchy feely’ type of guy but still went out of his way to show me encouragement. I know that kids and teens so much want attention and at times will do anything to get it. Seniors aren’t much different because their circle of family and friends has shrunk so they definitely need a hug and someone to appreciate them.

I have adopted a couple of grandmas, Doris, Bernice, Maddy, Hattie, Latte and others who keep me smiling and laughing. Yet, I know that one day I will get a phone call or go to visit to discover that they are gone. My hope is that I can be more intentional about being there for them in the ‘right way’. My memory of my grandparents is that too often I saw them as a quick way to get the needed funds for a date or event. I do want to lovingly spoil my grandson but want him to actually know me and not just see me as quick cash.

LOVE ON a grandma type today and see the smile on their faces!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Slow down and take care of yourself!

This is post is for those of us who are the over achiever types that have close friends always talking to you about your need to slow down and take a break. I had a good friend chide me yesterday for working too much. It would have been so easy to argue with her but I sat down and listened to what she had to say. After listening I explained to my friend how I work and offer some thoughts on being able to still be a person who performs but because of being strategic has time for myself.

I will be the first to admit that at times I find myself in the middle of a storm that I’m partially to blame for being busy. Is it possible to birth a mindset where you stop trying to prove yourself, show off or believe that doing more is always the better path? Instead I’m learning how to take time for myself first and have discovered that everything falls into place and I’m able to achieve my goals and do more. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I’m more concerned about doing more but having my priorities thought through before I allow the ‘tyranny of the urgent’ to rule my life.

I admit that being a type A person it’s so easy to get my sense of worth and value from what I do or achieve. I’m instead thinking through what’s more important is guarding my heart and my life from the busy is better cycle. My emotional energy is drawn not from what I do but from whom I choose to be! I confess to the fact that most male baby boomers have been raised or programed to be competitive and see being second as being a total loser. What I shared with my concerned friend was that my life passion of being a helper and server has given me the ability to help myself and love me for who I am instead of thinking that my life would be better if I only achieved another goal.

I admit that having an incredible wife, life partner, friend and mutual mentor has taught me the importance of being a person who always pursues the best in others instead of being in a race with the finish line being more important than the person running next to you. My mom taught me over the years to be an early riser who ultimately sees the good in others instead of having a critical mindset. Clearly if I’m going to have a healthy emotional life I must find a balance between giving to others while I’m also giving to feed my life spiritually, physically, emotionally and intellectually.

As my dogs remind me daily that to take a ‘dog nap’ each day that helps me slow down or stop does fuel me for a day that will have lots of demand and at times emotional heart ache. Don’t be surprised when you choose to take time for yourself you will have more time for others!